Tag Archives: wildflowers

Monarch butterfly

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Photo credit: Rick L. Hansen, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Wikimedia

Monarch butterflies have been in decline for years. As a result, backyard gardeners, butterfly lovers and environmentalists have been encouraging homeowners (and renters) to provide plants for Monarchs. I found the following graphic on Facebook and thought I would share it here:

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  1. Plant milkweed. It is important to locate seeds and plants that are native to your area. Very, very important.
  2. Encourage your locals schools and businesses to allow a Monarch-friendly patch of milkweed and other butterfly-friendly plants to thrive. Important: do not mow down plants until and unless they have gone to seed or died back naturally.
  3. No pesticides: my property is a pesticide-free zone. During the warm months, there are hundreds of insect species that stop by or live here including butterflies, bees, wasps (not all are bad), dragonflies, flies, and more.
  4. Share this information with others. If I had my way, pesticides would be banned from use by the general public and government entities.

More information: Journey North Monarch Butterfly project.

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Connecticut woods in June

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Early morning sunlight reveals interesting veining on these Sassafras leaves

My Sassafras patch is thriving after removing a few saplings that were blocking sunlight. I located another Sassafras near my driveway that would benefit from clearing more saplings and a few of the larches that the previous property owners planted (that are not doing well in that location anyway).

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Poison ivy casts leaf-shaped shadows

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Beautiful birch bark that seems to have some kind of black mold

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Clustered Bellflower Campanula glomerata is a volunteer that was most likely the result of a migrating bird. I initially thought this was in the Gentian family.

The Clustered Bellflower is a food source to butterflies and other pollinators so I will let it stay.

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The only characteristic of this Clustered Bellflower that is different from images I found online is the flower stem on my plant is green while those in other photos are red.

The book New England Wildflower Society’s flora Novae Angliae : a manual for the identification of native and naturalized higher vascular plants of New England by Arthur Haines (2011) indicates that Campanula glomerata has been found in many New England states except Connecticut. I’m guessing a migrating bird dropped the seeds and they are now naturalizing.

Listening to spring, refreshing my soul

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Middletown, Connecticut. Spring dandelions.

Middletown, Connecticut. Spring dandelions.

I had just spent an hour scouring online news sites, scrolling through Twitter, clicking and feasting on bad news. I was discouraged. Even worse, darkness threatened to overshadow and overpower joy and light in my soul.

Suddenly, my focus shifted. It was instantaneous and, I dare say, miraculous.

Outside I could hear a bird’s beautiful, clear song to which several others replied. These birds had no idea that ISIS had just invaded another city in Iraq.

I closed my eyes for a moment, and dark reality transformed into something beautiful.

I got up from my desk, opened the nearest window so that I could hear more bird songs sung in celebration of spring, and I stopped to allow the fresh, cool air to touch my face and flood the house.

When I opened that window, I opened my soul to beams of sunlight, dandelions, wild violets and bumble bees, garlic growing in my garden, hummingbirds visiting my bleeding hearts, and the soft verdure of spring leaves that provides a cocoon of privacy not there in wintertime.

The world outside my small piece of property, my small town and my small state (and within) is in conflict, full of hatred, acting and reacting with violence.

The ability to disconnect from all the “stuff” that sucks the light from the world, and my soul, is a gift.

Today, I embraced that gift and my soul was refreshed.

Playing in the dirt

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I did it! I finally went out into my back yard garden and started getting the beds ready to plant. Okay, I confess that I mostly just pulled out some monstrous weeds that were taking over.

Beautiful blueberries!

Beautiful blueberries!


I know I am at least a month behind this year, but my garden needs to work around my physical limitations and schedule.

Walking back to the house out of breath and feeling weak, I was still smiling. I had dirt beneath my fingernails and weeds piled up ready to be carried to the back compost pile. I said “Welcome!” to lots and lots of earthworms.

Just remember that this is a "Before" shot. It is all potential at this point. Those raised beds are filled with busy earthworms doing their thing. The soil is heavenly -- soft and dark brown, full of organic matter and microbes.

Just remember that this is a “Before” shot. It is all potential at this point. Those raised beds are filled with busy earthworms doing their thing. The soil is heavenly — soft and dark brown, full of organic matter and microbes.


I refuse to be discouraged. I am really struggling physically (chronic Lyme disease). Although I have occasional days when I am not wiped out, most of the time I feel my legs turning to jelly when I try to walk any distance — and the shortness of breath is the worst of all.

Last night I walked up and down a flight of stairs with barely a notice. Today, I got out of breath walking up the small hill from my back yard to my front yard. But my back yard raised beds look so much better than when I started. I hope to get seeds in the ground this weekend — everything is just going in the dirt. No indoor seed starting this year. I am winging it!

I am inviting Serendipity to do her thing!

My 21yo son cleaned out the patch where I have allowed Common Milkweed to do its thing hoping to do my part for Monarch butterflies. I started with three plants two years ago, and now have at least 20 plants.

My 21yo son cleaned out the patch where I have allowed Common Milkweed to do its thing hoping to do my part for Monarch butterflies. I started with three plants two years ago, and now have at least 20 plants.

Oh, I found some volunteer lettuce plants in the grass in front of the terraced garden bed yesterday. I dug up one little Romaine lettuce plant and put it in the soil where I want it. I plan to dig up the rest and move those baby lettuce plants so they don’t get mowed down.

Lettuce volunteers growing in the grass. I allowed a few lettuce plants to go to seed last fall, and this is what they gave me -- offspring!

Lettuce volunteers growing in the grass. I allowed a few lettuce plants to go to seed last fall, and this is what they gave me — offspring!


Now, I will take a little nap. See you later on this warm Saturday in May!

Connecticut Garden – July Update Part 1

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Meadow frittilary on common milkweed

Meadow frittilary on common milkweed


We have had two full weeks of warm weather with temps going no lower than mid-60’s at night. With amazing growth in the garden has brought bugs, pests, mosquitoes, squash bugs, leaf beetles, a variety of moth larvae. It takes a lot of time checking every plant, beneath every leaf, picking off slugs, beetles, creepy crawlies that want to eat my plants. I am so glad that I’m not squeamish. I can squish a caterpillar with my bare hands. Muahaha . . .

But that isn’t all that’s going on in the garden. No, there are also the deer. I headed out to the garden a few days ago and discovered that one or more deer had pruned 11 of 12 tomato plants in my front garden. My single stem indeterminate tomato plants are now bush varieties. I will consider it a forced experiment in topping indeterminate tomato plants to see if they do well as bushier plants. Why not? When life gives you lemons it is definitely time to make lemonade.

The next day I forced the boys outside in the rain with me at dusk fighting off swarms of mosquitoes to put up the cattle panels that I use for fencing. They worked last year so I am hoping they work again. Typically, a fence of 8 feet is required to keep deer out of the garden. I want to buy some aluminum pie plates to hang along the fence to aid in deterring critters from visiting my garden.

Okay, enough of the challenges. Here is what has happened in the past week.

Backyard garden protected by cattle panels

Backyard garden protected by cattle panels

Most exciting is the cucumber growth since covering the ground around the bean teepee with fresh compost

Most exciting is the cucumber growth since covering the ground around the bean teepee with fresh compost

Moskovich tomato

Moskovich tomato

San Marzano plum tomatoes

San Marzano plum tomatoes

From left: parsley, basil, ground cherry (front), Yellow bell peppers (center), eggplant (back)

From left: parsley, basil, ground cherry (front), Yellow bell peppers (center), eggplant (back)

Aunt Molly's Ground Cherry

Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherry

Red cabbage looking prettier than a rose

Red cabbage looking prettier than a rose

My first and only head of broccoli so far

My first and only head of broccoli so far

Deer-pruned tomato plants bushing out nicely

Deer-pruned tomato plants bushing out nicely

Pickling cucumber plants in the front garden being trained up the tomato trellis

Pickling cucumber plants in the front garden being trained up the tomato trellis

Strawberry popcorn bordered by black beans which have just started to bloom

Strawberry popcorn bordered by black beans which have just started to bloom

Dwarf bok choy seed pods

Dwarf bok choy seed pods

Northern brown snake is welcome in my garden

Northern brown snake is welcome in my garden

What’s blooming in Connecticut?

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I love these little flowers!

Bluets or Quaker Ladies

Bluets or Quaker Ladies

Wood anemone (Anemone quinquefolia)

Wood anemone (Anemone quinquefolia)

Wild violets are everywhere!

Wild violets are everywhere!

Blueberry blossoms

Blueberry blossoms

Bartlett pear blossoms

Bartlett pear blossoms

Spring has definitely arrived! Daffodils and Evening primrose with forsythia still showing lots of color

Spring has definitely arrived! Daffodils and Evening primrose with forsythia still showing lots of color

Hey, wait!  That's not a botanical.  No, that is my daughter and granddaughter.  My first crocheted cotton hat with a nice, big flower on the side!  See, there is a flower in the photo.

Hey, wait! That’s not a botanical. No, that is my daughter and granddaughter. My first crocheted cotton hat with a nice, big flower on the side! See, there is a flower in the photo.